Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?

Do you lose things? Misplace your glasses, keys, cellphone, or worse?

A few weeks ago I saw advertised a bit of wizardry called TrackR bravo, a coin-sized, wireless device that attaches to anything you want to track. The two wholesome-looking, geeky guys who invented it claim it can find lost items in seconds. However, it is still in production and won’t be available just yet.

Here is a bit of verse contributed by husband Cliff on the occasion of his un-earthing treasures long forgotten in drawers, filing cabinets, and notebooks. These lines dated January 2004 were inspired by his discovering a plastic container of leftover artichoke dip, with mold growing on top, tucked inside an enclosed green sandwich cooler bag, hanging quietly for a day or two on the back of a kitchen chair.


Button, Button. Who’s got the button?

Glasses, Glasses. Oh, where did I put those glasses?

Keys, keys. Why did some Martian leave them in my van door overnight?

Windows, windows. Why would windows be partway open, when I know I closed them tightly the night before?

Names, names. Why do people always change their names, when their faces remain the same?

Pens, pens. Why do they secretly skip to someplace else, when no one is watching?

Book, book. Why did that book hide itself beneath the bed again?

Folder, folder. Would someone please tell me how my folder mysteriously appeared somewhere else?

Cell phone, cell phone. Why isn’t that cell phone with me now when I know I just saw it a moment ago?

Date, date. Who changed my appointment for Wednesday on the calendar that I knew for certain was on Friday?

Remote, remote. Who snuck in while I was in the kitchen and hid my remote?

List, list. How can I get along without my “To Do” list? I’d swear I left it on the dresser, a window ledge, my hat box or . . .

Wander, wander. Why do I always have to go back to where I came from, to find out what I had forgotten?

Zipper, zipper. Who is it who, ghost-like, unzips the very pants I parade to work in?

Artichoke dip, artichoke dip. Now where did I leave that nice little dip? Why would it be inside the green cooler bag hanging on a kitchen chair, sporting a fuzzy growth of mold on top?

Brain, brain. Am I losing my mind? “Ding, Dong.” Is Alzheimer’s at my front door?

Remember, remember. Oh dear, what else have I forgotten to remember?

Oh well, I’ll now put on my shirt . . .  “Pop!” Button, button. Who’s got the button?


A side note:

The day after reading the poem to Marian at dinnertime she asked, “Have you seen the poem?”

I told her the last time I had seen it was on the kitchen table after reading it. “Did you put it in your hat box under the wicker coffee table?” I quizzed.

“Oh dear me, Button, Button Poem, Button, Button Poem. Who’s got the Button, Button Poem?”

You have stories of loss, recovery, and perhaps loss – again. Your anecdote fits right here!

Coming next: “What’s Your Name Again?”


Thirty Days Hath September: Memory and Memoir

 Thirty days hath September,

April, June, and November.

All the rest have thirty-one,

Excepting February alone,

And that has twenty-eight days clear,

And twenty-nine in each leap year.

Thirty Days Has September_12x12_72

Memory is at the heart of memoir. It fuels unfolding stories. A memoir writer like me depends on it for inspiration. When there are glitches, I freeze: Trying to remember a word, I experience a flicker: Ah, it has three-syllables, begins with V. But what is that word?

One of my earliest memories is sitting in a high chair looking over the wooden tray and seeing the kitchen table covered in oilcloth with a red, black, white, and silver repeat pattern. It’s just a flicker, but I’ve experienced it so many times, I’ve convinced myself it is true.

In the blurry border between sleeping and awakening, a landscape often forms in my head: a cornfield disappearing acres away into a stand of trees. An image from my childhood, the picture is reinforced every time I look out the front window of my mother’s house where she has lived for over 70 years.

In probing my childhood . . . I see the awakening of consciousness as a series of spaced flashes, with the intervals between them gradually diminishing until bright blocks of perception are formed, affording memory a slippery hold.

                                           Vladimir Nabokov

Smells often arouse memory. A sniff of hyacinth in the supermarket takes me right back to Grandma’s spring garden. My grandchildren’s Crayolas transport me to my own fresh box in first grade. Fresh ink . . . new second-grade textbook, Friends and Neighbors. Crinkly crepe paper, my Hallowe’en costume. 


Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of years and all the miles and all the years we have lived.

                           Helen Keller

Memory is erratic too. I used to think that if I remembered something, then it must be true. But maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. We all remember Grandma giving us a dose of whiskey with honey at times of extreme unction when we were deathly sick with the flu. We all agree it went down our throats like fire. But we disagree on the details. Was it Schenley? Or Jack Daniels? One or two tablespoons?

The brain invents stories and runs imagined and remembered events back and forth through time.

                                Edward O. Wilson

We all know stress shrinks memory, but “a good dose of sugar—found in dieter’s no-nos like jelly doughnuts, banana cream pie, and chocolate eclairs—markedly enhances it.” (Rupp)

Let me take a bite . . . . Well, it worked. I remember the word now: “VICTROLA!”

VictrolaOpen Similar to one Daddy had in his shop

Source: Rupp, Rebecca. Committed to Memory: How We Remember and Why We Forget.


 Hamlet — “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.”

What flickers of memory came to mind as you read this?

About what memories do you and a family member disagree?

Hair: Historical to Hysterical

Baskin-Robbins offers nearly 60 flavors of ice cream at their shoppes. The varieties of dress among Mennonites and Amish, who split from the Mennonites, is nearly as long and equally fascinating. In recent research, I counted dozens of sub-sects.


By far the most conservative group that maintains plain dress is the Old Order Amish church. The Amish have unfortunately reached pop culture status with hideous reality shows that exploit their way of life including their dress distinctives:

Amish men                AmishGirls

Herr                                                                                    Frau

Beards                                                                          Headcovering with tie strings

Hair cut off straight in back, banged in front                Uncut hair parted in center in bun

Coats, vets fastening with hooks & eyes                       Long dress with cape in solid color

Suspenders and broadfall pants                                  Pleated or gathered skirt

Wide brimmed hats                                                       Black shoes and stockings

As though frozen in time, attire of the Old Order Amish church has not noticeably evolved, reminiscent of their European origins.

Then there is the Brethren Church with its various branches. “The Old Order River Brethren continue to wear traditional garb.” The men look much like Amish but the women “wear opaque white headcoverings, capes, aprons, and a peplum on the dress bodice,” which tapers to a V-shape. An excellent source for detail of other sub-sects: http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/D74ME.html

Typically, my visit to PA includes an appointment with a perky River Brethren woman who gives massages. You gasp “Massages!” but it’s true! Esther has my vote for the Most Modest Masseuse on Earth; she gives head-to-toe therapeutic massages in her home for a shockingly modest fee. Were she fancy, and not plain, she would fit perfectly in a chiroparactor’s office. Note peplum, short ruffle attached at waistline in photo below:

massage table                PlainMassageLady_13x18_72_brighten

Finally, there is not simply a Mennonite Church, but a cluster of branches, including a very conservative branch called Black-Bumpers, who drive cars but paint their shiny chrome bumpers black (less flashy)! Once in Lancaster I spotted a sleek Mercedes-Benz sedan with black bumpers and very plain girls spilling out—an image of paradox if there ever was one.

My own brand of Mennonites is the Lancaster Conference Mennonites, who have driven cars rather than horse and buggies but have long adhered to a strict code of dress since their emigration from Europe in the early 1700s. However, plain dress among these Mennonites has been falling by the wayside since the 1960s and 70s when these photos below were snapped.

3twogirlsMeet the Mennonites_Cover_5x7_150                      3MeettheMennonites

Smith, Elmer L. and Melvin Horst. “Meet the Mennonites in Pennsylvania Dutchland,”
Lebanon, PA: Applied Arts Publishers, 1997.

Marian_hair_braids_3x5_96     Marian_middleschool

Braids, also known as pig tails           Braids circling head with hairpins, middle school

Beaman_Longenecker_wedding_announce  Engagement: transition to fancy



Cliff_Marian_hair teased_Crista_4x3_150

Marge Simpson wannabe

Little known fact: The family of Milton Snavely Hershey, the Chocolate King, were Reformed Mennonites; his mother was a member and his grandfather, Abram Snavely, was a bishop for 37 years. Milton married a non-Mennonite. (“Meet the Mennonites”)


There is a connection, I think, between chocolate and access to memory both plain or fancy, expressed so distinctly by Barbara Crooker:


“. . . for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

I Samuel 16:7